Method and assembly for replacing fluorescent lights
End caps that attach to any standard tubing to facilitate mounting a tube with LEDs into an existing fluorescent lamp cabinet. The tube can be cut to a desired length. The end caps can be supported by the fluorescent fixtures or mounting brackets in the cabinet. An assembly comprising a light emitting diode (LED) lamp for replacing fluorescent tube lights.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
The present application claims priority from U.S. Prov. Pat. App. No. 62/196,732, and U.S. Prov. Pat. App. No. 62/196,813, both filed on Jul. 24, 2015, and is a divisional application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 29/568,321, filed Jun. 16, 2016, all three of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION
Fluorescent lights are low pressure mercury-vapor gas-discharge lamps that use fluorescence to produce visible light. An electric current in the gas excites mercury vapor which produces short-wave ultraviolet light that then causes a light-emitting phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb to glow. Incandescent lights are electrical lights which produce light with a wire filament heated to a high temperature by an electric current passing through it until it glows.
Fluorescent lights are used as back lighting for signs. Fluorescent lamps are found in residences, such as in kitchens, basements, or garages, in schools and in businesses because the cost savings when using fluorescent lamps tend to be significant when compared to the cost of incandescent light use. However, recent developments in light emitting diode (LED) technology have made LEDs more efficient and cheaper to use than both fluorescent bulbs and incandescent bulbs. LEDs are a type of solid-state lighting and use a semiconductor to convert electricity into light.
A light bulb's efficiency, or luminous efficacy, is a measure of emitted light, or lumens (lm), divided by the power it draws, or watts (W). A bulb that is 100% efficient at converting energy into light would have an efficacy of 683 lm/W. To illustrate, for example, a 60 W to 100 W watt incandescent bulb has an efficacy of 15 lm/W; an equivalent fluorescent light has an efficacy of 73 lm/W, and current LED-based replacement bulbs on the market range from 70 lm/W to 120 lm/W with an average efficacy of 85 lm/W.
LEDs have many advantages over incandescent light sources and fluorescent light sources including lower energy consumption, longer lifetime, emitting an intended color without using any color filters, higher shock resistance, smaller size, and faster switching. The carbon footprint of LED use is also significantly less than both incandescent lighting and fluorescent lighting. For example, if an average light bulb is on for 10 hours a day, a 40-watt bulb will cause 196 pounds of CO2 emission per year. The 6-watt LED equivalent will only cause 30 pounds of CO2 emission per year. Changing fluorescent lighting to LED lighting would give a 34% reduction in electrical power use around the world and reduce carbon emissions.
Fluorescent tube lamps, such as the ANSI T12 and T8, require a high alternating current voltage, a few hundred volts, to initiate a discharge and start the lamp. The high voltage is provided by a transformer, referred to as a “ballast,” which provides a high voltage for starting the lamp and then greatly reduces the current during lamp operation. LEDs do not require a high voltage to start emitting light, and are typically powered by a 12 V or 24 V direct current power supply. The power supply for a fluorescent lamp is therefore not compatible with an LED.
Some LED lamps are made to be installed in existing fluorescent light cabinets, although they typically require disconnecting the fluorescent lamp ballast and providing a low voltage LED power supply. LED lamps for fluorescent lamp replacement typically consist of many individual directional LEDs mounted on a stick or in a tube. They are designed to physically fit in fixtures intended for fluorescent tubes or attach to the structures surrounding the fixtures. This allows replacement of fluorescent bulbs without replacing the entire fixture saving both time and money. One example of a replacement LED tube light is the Qwik Stik by Principal LED (depicted in
The LineFit Light LED System by GE (depicted in
Other LED light configurations can be used to replace fluorescent lights as well. For example, a prior art method of replacing ceiling fluorescent light bulbs is described in
These prior art LED replacements and methods, however, can be expensive and time-intensive. They typically cost between 15 per foot to 30 per foot depending on if they are single sided or double sided. A prior art method of replacing fluorescent lights with LED tube lights is described in
Furthermore, these prior art LED replacements are potentially dangerous. The ends, for example, of the Qwik Stik are metallic, so, if the electrical power to the fluorescent fixture is still on, the ends of the Qwik Stik become a potential shock hazard. Replacement of sign lighting fluorescent bulbs using prior art methods can be especially dangerous because workers often must replace bulbs at heights of at least 15 feet in the air. Workers having to juggle a drill, screws, and other parts or tools while trying to replace a bulb creates the risk of workers dropping things on anything or anyone below them. It also creates a risk to the workers themselves as they could also accidentally fall to the ground.
LEDs are also more environmentally friendly then fluorescent bulbs and incandescent bulbs. LEDs have longer life spans and do not have to be replaced as many times as fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. They also do not contain mercury such as in fluorescent bulbs, which is a hazardous chemical.
Some prior art LEDs are only manufactured to specific sizes and, therefore, cannot fit every available space for replacement, which raises inventory cost exponentially. For example, the Qwik Stik comes in sizes ranging from 18 inches to 120 inches in 8 inch increments, and the LineFit comes in sizes ranging from 18 inches to 96 inches in 8 inch increments. Other prior art LEDs, such as the Tandem2, can be cut to fit the available space for replacement but they must use 4 strips of lighting to efficiently cover a sign cabinet faces 360 degrees which causes the cost to escalate tremendously and still require additional tools and fasteners to be installed adjacent to the fluorescent fixture.
Therefore, a safer, less expensive, and easier method of replacing fluorescent bulbs and incandescent bulbs with LEDs in fluorescent fixtures and incandescent fixtures, respectively, is necessary.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
An object of the invention is to provide a system, method and kit for the simple assembly and installation of LED lamps into existing fluorescent lamp fixtures.
Some embodiments of the invention use nonmetallic end caps that are supported in a lamp cabinet by the existing mounting hardware. The nonmetallic end caps can be slipped over or into the end of any type of tube that can be cut-to-length to fit in the existing fluorescent lamp fixture. The tube can be either hollow or solid and the tube cross-section can be standard square, round, triangle, hexagonal or any other shape. Any number, type or color of LEDs are mounted on the tube to meet any specific application. The end caps may be supported by the existing mounting hardware in the fixtures, by knock-out holes in the cabinet for mounting conventional fixtures, or by other hardware.
Some embodiments of the invention are directed to a kit for replacing fluorescent tube lights. The kit comprises two end caps that attach to ends of a tube; at least one light emitting diode (LED) that attaches to at least one side of the tube; and an LED power supply for supplying power to the at least one LED. At least one light emitting diode can be at least one trimmable light emitting diode strip. The tube can have a cylindrical, triangle-shaped, square-shaped, or hexagonal-shaped cross-section.
Some embodiments of the invention are directed to a light emitting diode (LED) lamp for replacing fluorescent tube lights. The LED lamp comprises a tube similar in length to a fluorescent tube; two end caps, each end cap disposed at each end of the tube; at least one LED attached to at least one side of the tube; and means for connecting the at least one LED to an LED power supply for supplying power to the at least one LED. The tube can have a cylindrical, triangle-shaped, square-shaped, or hexagonal-shaped cross-section
The foregoing has outlined rather broadly the features and technical advantages of the present invention in order that the detailed description of the invention that follows may be better understood. Additional features and advantages of the invention will be described hereinafter. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the conception and specific embodiments disclosed may be readily utilized as a basis for modifying or designing other structures for carrying out the same purposes of the present invention. It should also be realized by those skilled in the art that such equivalent constructions do not depart from the scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
For a more thorough understanding of the present invention, and advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following descriptions taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
Various embodiments of the invention include methods for mounting LED lighting into lamp cabinets, kits for converting fluorescent lighting to LED lighting, and end caps for installation on a mounting tube that can be cut-to-length to fit into any fluorescent lamp cabinets or housing. The end caps can be mounted onto or into existing fixtures or can mount into standard fixture-mounting holes in the lamp cabinet as seen in
Some embodiments provide a method of replacing fluorescent tube lights with LED lighting. In some embodiments, the method includes cutting a tube to a predetermined length; fitting at least one end cap to at least one side of the tube, preferably without screws or other connectors, the at least one end cap preferably being a single extruded structure; attaching at least one LED to the tube in a desired pattern; and fitting the tube in a space that previously held at least one fluorescent tube light.
Some embodiments provide a kit for replacing fluorescent tube lights. In some embodiments, the kit includes at least two end caps that attach to opposing sides of a tube and at least one LED that attaches to at least one side of the tube. The kit may include a tube that fits into the end caps, or the tube can be acquired separately.
In step 1104, LEDs are placed on the exterior surface of the tube in a desired pattern. The 120 V ballast of the fluorescent fixture is disconnected in step 1108. If the end caps are insulating, then disconnecting the ballast is not strictly necessary, but is preferred. In step 1110, the tube with the attached end caps and LEDs is positioned in the cabinet. The end caps either fit inside the existing fluorescent fixtures or standard knock out holes in the cabinet or slide over the existing fluorescent fixtures. In step 1110, the LEDs are then connected to a low voltage driver to convert line voltage, such as 110 VAC, to 5 VDC, 12 VDC, 24 VDC or other voltage required by the LEDs at a constant current. This process allows LED replacement of fluorescent bulbs without the need to remove or alter the entire fixture.
In some embodiments, the end caps can be attached to the tube with an adhesive, such as glue, tape, epoxy, or a similar compound. In some embodiments, the end cap is maintained on the tube by a friction fit. In some embodiments, the end caps and the tube include a threading allowing the end caps to screw onto the ends of the tubing. In some embodiments, the end caps have a recessed inner portion distal to the existing fixture that fits inside the tube and holds the end caps in place. In some embodiments, the distal side of the end caps to the existing fixture has a greater cross section area then the tube and can slide onto the end of the tube, holding the end caps in place by friction. In some embodiments, the end caps are made of rubber.
In some embodiments, there is no fixture or mounting hole and the tube is held in place by the friction properties of the end caps alone. In some embodiments the end cap is made of rubber or styrofoam. Examples of LEDs used in embodiments of the invention are shown in
As shown in
The cut-to-length tube used with any embodiment can be standard plastic or metal tubing of any shape. These shapes include cylindrical, triangle-shaped, square-shaped, and hexagonal-shaped. The cut-to-length tube can be composed of any hollow or solid. The end caps are nonmetallic. A kit in accordance some embodiments of the invention can include end caps, LEDs with a means for attaching to the tube, and a power supply for the LEDs. The LEDs can be attached to the tube using adhesives or mechanical fasteners.
Flanges 1206 are nonconductive and preferably flexible to allow flanges 1206 to slide into and around tubes of differing sizes. Structures 1204 are depicted as triangular in
Flanges 1206 and structures 1204 preferably hold the end cap in place on tubing without any connectors or fasteners. In some embodiments, however, fasteners, or screws, can hold flanges 1206 in place on the tubing.
In some embodiments, the end cap is constructed as a single integral structure. That is, the end cap is, for example, a single molded, extruded, or cast part and not constructed from two parts that are bolted together.
Disposed at one end of tube 1302 is end cap 1306. End cap 1306 includes fitting 1308. Fitting 1308 is shaped so that fitting 1308 can be received in a complimentary-shaped fitting in a light fixture. Fitting 1308 can comprise a standardized fitting used for light fixtures used with longitudinal-shaped lamps, such as fluorescent tube fixtures.
Disposed at the other end of tube 1302 is end cap 1310. End cap 1310 includes fitting 1312, power cord 1314, and power plug 1316. Fitting 1312 is shaped so that fitting 1312 can be received in a complimentary-shaped fitting in a light fixture. Fitting 1312 can comprise a standardized fitting used for light fixtures used with longitudinal-shaped lamps, such as fluorescent tube fixtures. Power cord 1314 and power plug 1316 provide electric power to LEDs 1304.
While in many embodiments the end caps are inserted into or over existing fixtures, in constructing new lamp cabinets, the end caps can be designed to be inserted directed into the lamp cabinet and there is no need to install fluorescent fixtures having electrical connectors that will not be used merely to provide mechanical mounting for the end caps. When the end cap and lamp tube are mounted over existing fluorescent fixtures, the existing fixtures provide a spring on one side that is holds the end cap and LED tube in place. When end caps are used in new construction without existing fixtures, springs must be provided.
Some embodiments provide a method of mounting LEDs in fluorescent tube cabinets or other fixture holders. Embodiments of the method comprise mounting a spring to a first fixture, the spring being mounted after factory assembly of the first fixture; mounting the first fixture into a first side of a lamp cabinet or other fixture holder, the first fixture including a first receptacle for a tube; installing a first end of a tube into the first receptacle in the first fixture mounted in the lamp cabinet, the tube having LEDs on the tube's exterior surface, and compressing the spring and inserting the second end of the tube into a receptacle at a second position of the lamp cabinet or fixture holder. The method may include disconnecting the ballast from the fixture and connecting the LEDs to an LED driver.
Some embodiments provide a kit for replacing fluorescent tube lights comprising at least one mounting fixture, which has a receptacle for a tube; at least one spring; at least one LED that mounts onto the tube; and an LED driver.
In some embodiments, the spring is mounted on the fixture positioned between a portion of the fixture and a wall of the lamp cabinet or other fixture holder and shown in
The tube used with any embodiment can be standard plastic or metal tubing of any shape. These shapes include cylindrical, triangle-shaped, square-shaped, and hexagonal-shaped. A kit in accordance some embodiments of the invention can include springs, LEDs with a means for attaching to the material that can be cut to length, and a power supply for the LEDs. The LEDs can be attached to the cut to length material using adhesives or mechanical fasteners.
The spring is designed to slip over the fluorescent fixture and stay in place unless the spring is directly pulled off. This facilitates connecting the spring to the fixture in the field rather than requiring the spring to be attached to the fixture in a factory. The fixture 3502 may include a clip to as shown in
Although the present invention and its advantages have been described in detail, it should be understood that various changes, substitutions and alterations can be made to the embodiments described herein without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims. Moreover, the scope of the present application is not intended to be limited to the particular embodiments of the process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, means, methods and steps described in the specification. As one of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate from the disclosure of the present invention, processes, machines, manufacture, compositions of matter, means, methods, or steps, presently existing or later to be developed that perform substantially the same function or achieve substantially the same result as the corresponding embodiments described herein may be utilized according to the present invention. Accordingly, the appended claims are intended to include within their scope such processes, machines, manufacture, compositions of matter, means, methods, or steps.
1. A method of providing light emitting diode (LED) lighting in a fluorescent lamp cabinet, the method comprising:
- cutting tubing to a predetermined length to create a tube;
- fitting non-conductive end caps to each end of the tube without a screw or other connectors;
- attaching at least one LED to the tube;
- mounting the tube into a fluorescent lamp cabinet, the tube being supported by the end caps attached directly or indirectly to the cabinet; and
- connecting a source of electrical power to the LED, the electrical power not being provided through either of the end caps.
2. The method of claim 1 in which mounting the tube into the fluorescent lamp cabinet comprises supporting at least one of the end caps by a fluorescent lamp mounting fixture mounted to the fluorescent lamp cabinet.
3. The method of claim 2 in which supporting at least one of the end caps by a fluorescent lamp mounting fixture comprises inserting a portion of the at least one end cap into the fluorescent lamp mounting fixture.
4. The method of claim 2 in which supporting at least one of the end caps by a fluorescent lamp mounting fixture comprises inserting a portion of the at least one end cap over the fluorescent lamp mounting fixture.
5. The method of claim 1 in which mounting the tube into the fluorescent lamp cabinet comprises inserting a portion of at least one of the end caps directly into a hole in the fluorescent cabinet and not into a fluorescent lamp mounting fixture mounted to the fluorescent lamp cabinet.
6. The method of claim 1 in which mounting the tube into the fluorescent lamp cabinet comprises mounting the tube into fluorescent lamp cabinet of a backlit commercial sign.
7. An end cap for replacing fluorescent tube lights with light emitting diode (LED) lights within a lamp cabinet, comprising:
- a first mating structure, the first mating structure configured to attach to the end of a tube without screws or other connectors; and
- a second mating structure for holding the tube and end cap in place, within a lamp cabinet and configured to fit directly into a hole in the lamp cabinet rather than being configured to fit within a lamp fixture mounted into the lamp cabinet.
8. The end cap of claim 7 in which the first mating structure fits into the tube.
9. The end cap of claim 7 in which the first mating structure slides over the tube.
10. The end cap of claim 7 in which the first mating structure comprises plastic or rubber.
11. The end cap of claim 7 in which the first mating structure mates with a cylindrical, triangle-shaped, square-shaped, or hexagonal-shaped tube.
12. The end cap of claim 7 in which the first mating structure accepts tubes having different cross sections.
13. The end cap of claim 12 in which the first mating structure accepts cut-to-length tubes having different diameters.
14. The end cap of claim 12 in which the first mating structure includes at least one flange for fitting into or over the tube.
15. The end cap of claim 14 in which the flange forms a friction fit with the tube.
16. The end cap of claim 14 in which the flange includes protuberances that maintain a friction fit between the end cap and the tube.
17. The end cap of claim 14 in which the first mating structure includes multiple flanges for fitting into or over tubes of different sizes.
18. The end cap of claim 14 in which the first mating structure includes multiple flanges for fitting into tubes of different sizes and over tubes of different sizes.
19. The end cap of claim 8 in which:
- the second mating structure is configured on a first element; and
- the first mating structure is configured on a first element slidably connected with the first element;
- and further comprising:
- a spring biasing the first element away from the second element.
20. A kit for replacing fluorescent tube lights, the kit comprising:
- two end caps that attach to ends of a tube;
- at least one light emitting diode (LED) that attaches to at least one side of the tube; and
- an LED power supply for supplying power to the at least one LED, the power not being supplied through either of the end caps.
21. The kit of claim 20, in which the at least one light emitting diode comprises at least one trimmable light emitting diode strip.
22. The kit of claim 20, in which the tube has a cylindrical, triangle-shaped, square-shaped, or hexagonal-shaped cross-section.
23. A light emitting diode (LED) lamp for replacing fluorescent tube lights, the LED lamp comprising:
- a tube similar in length to a fluorescent tube;
- two end caps, each end cap disposed at each end of the tube;
- at least one LED attached to at least one side of the tube; and
- means for connecting the at least one LED to an LED power supply for supplying power to the at least one LED without the power being conducted through the end cap.
24. The LED lamp of claim 23, in which the tube has a cylindrical, triangle-shaped, square-shaped, or hexagonal-shaped cross-section.
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Foreign Patent Documents
Filed: Jul 25, 2016
Date of Patent: Mar 5, 2019
Patent Publication Number: 20170023186
Inventors: Sidney Howard Norton (Odessa, TX), Curtis Alan Roys (Fredericksburg, TX)
Primary Examiner: Anh T Mai
Assistant Examiner: Meghan K Ulanday
Application Number: 15/219,246
International Classification: F21V 21/00 (20060101); F21K 9/27 (20160101); F21V 23/00 (20150101); F21Y 115/10 (20160101); F21V 19/00 (20060101); F21V 23/06 (20060101); F21Y 107/30 (20160101); H01R 33/08 (20060101);